Northern Tioga School District staff and volunteers take time out to help distribute lunches to families throughout the valley. Here Amy Millard, Sherri Blackwell and Mark Klemick take pre-packaged lunches to a vehicle at the Northern Tioga School District Administration building Friday morning.

As coronavirus begins to appear in the area, local communities are stepping up to help one another in this unprecedented time of need.

Though schools are closed, Northern Tioga School District staff and local individuals volunteered to set up food distribution sites across the valley. At the distribution sites, families residing in the school district with children between the ages of 0-18 were eligible to pick up a pre-packed lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

As families drove to the distribution areas, volunteers brought meals out to the vehicles for a drive through style system that helped to maintain social distancing practices.

But not everyone needing meals was able to drive to the distribution sites. That’s where local businesses stepped in to lend a helping hand.

Jeremy Freeman is the head of grounds and maintenance for NTSD and also owns Muffler Shop Plus, Inc. in Elkland. When Freeman heard about the district needing a way to transport the food, he volunteered a box truck from his business. With the help of the box truck and other individuals pitching in to help deliver, volunteers were able to distribute 1,800 meals throughout the valley in just the first week.

“They needed a way to transport the food so we allowed them to borrow the truck,” said Missy Freeman, co-owner of Muffler Shop Plus, Inc. “We figured it’s the least we could do to help out.”

While each day brings more updates of the spread of the virus, businesses continue to step forward to offer aid. The staff at Short’s Tastee Pastries in Elkland is working to bake enough bread to feed everyone.

Owner Shelia Cole said, they made 200 loaves of white bread on Friday, not including 60 or so wheat and another 20 loaves of rye. Cole said she has customers from New York calling because they can’t find any bread across the border. Anyone who has been shopping in the last week can sympathize.

Supporting one another helps everyone realize they are not alone.

“It’s great how the businesses in this area have come together,” Freeman said. “It’s building a positive camaraderie in these difficult times.”